Complete Guide: Delivering for Instacart

Complete review: delivering for instacart featured image

What is Instacart?

Instacart is a delivery platform that serves as an on-demand local service for people who are looking to have their groceries delivered to their doorstep.

Founded in 2012 by Apoorva Mehta, Max Mullen and Brandon Leonardo, Instacart is available in over 5,500 cities across the nation. Mehta created the idea of Instacart based on his delivery service experience while working at Amazon. He wanted to create a personalized platform for grocery delivery based on quick and convenient factors. The company began to grow so quickly that a full team of personal shoppers was hired to take on the high demand of individuals using the service. The current team of personal shoppers has continued to grow to over 200,00 shoppers. Delivering for Instacart has become a very popular and easy side job to earn money in your spare time

How do you make deliveries for Instacart?

To begin, there are two types of Instacart shoppers, in-store and full-service. Both are described below, but this blog will focus mostly no full-service shoppers. 

  1. In-store shopper: 
    • Assigned to a specific grocery store partnered with Instacart
    • Responsible for preparing and packing orders for full-service shoppers or for customers picking up
    • Earn an hourly wage
    • Scheduled for shifts based on the schedule they have provided 
    • No vehicle required
  2. Full-service shopper
    • Independent contractors
    • Work as little or as often as desired
    • Paid for each order that is delivered successfully
    • The amount one earna is based on the number of items in an order or a “batch”, type of items, distance driven and any tip given by the customer

Like many delivery service platforms, Instacart has necessary requirements in order to become a courier (these are mainly for full-service shoppers). The specific requirements are as follows:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Consistent access to a vehicle
  • Consistent access to and be able to effectively use a recent smartphone 
  • Ability to lift 50 lbs with or without accommodation

To get started delivering for Instacart, you can sign up through their website. The process is quick and easy. Once you have provided your personal information, confirmed you meet the requirements, filled out the questionnaire about your experience and authorized a background check, just download the app and you are good to go! It will take about one week to get all of your information processed. You will also receive a prepaid which will be used each time you check out with a batch at the store.

The screen that shows up when you are signing up to deliver for Instacart
Sign up screen for delivering with Instacart

When you’re ready to begin delivering, just log on to the app and wait for orders to arrive. Before you accept an order, the Instacart app will provide you with details about the order including your guaranteed earnings, the grocery store ordered from and the total distance to the customer’s address. 

After accepting the batch order, head to the given grocery store and find the items provided on the customer’s grocery list. Make sure to get all items requested and contact your customer in the case that an item is unavailable. After you have found everything, head to the checkout counter and purchase the grocery items with your prepaid card. Once that is completed, scan your receipt and drive to the address given by the customer in the app to make the delivery.

How much do delivery drivers for Instacart get paid?

Instacart couriers make an average of $10-$15 an hour, according to Glassdoor. However, because this job is based on independent contracting, there are no guaranteed earnings.

Focusing on full-service shoppers, Instacart pay varies depending on the size of a batch, type of items, distance driven, location and 100% of a tip, if given by the customer. Instacart also offers bonuses and incentives as listed below:

  • Peak Boost: when the demands of customers are high and during rush hours, customers may be charged extra which will partly go to the shopper because for the extra effort they have put in during peak hours (order must be completed within a timely manner)
  • Quality bonuses incentive: shoppers earn a $3 bonuses when they receive a 5-star rating from their customers
  • Referral bonuses: Instacart offers bonus earnings when you refer a friend to shop with us
Screen that pops up with the details of an order
Order notification screen with order details

There are two ways full-service shoppers can receive their earnings. The first way is through what Instacart calls “Instant Cashout.” With Instant Cashout, shoppers can get their earnings whenever they would like but have to pay with a small fee of $0.50. The second option is the Direct Deposit method. With this method, shoppers will receive their earnings weekly, free of charge.

Pros of driving for Instacart

Flexible hours

With delivering for Instacart, couriers are free to schedule shifts on their own time. There is no set schedule that has to be followed.

Easy and convenient

This job is as easy as can be as couriers are grocery shopping for others and getting paid to do so! 

Cons of driving for Instacart

Difficult customer service

Unfortunately, based on reviews from Glassdoor, Instacart does not seem to have the best or quickest customer service response. This can be frustrating when something in an order goes wrong and the courier has no control over the issue. 

Inconsistent pay

As with most food delivery jobs, there are no guaranteed earnings. To avoid slow shifts, learn when the area you are delivering in is most busy and focus on working during peak hours. 

Instacart shopper reviews

Numerous reviews on delivering for Instacart focus on the ease and simplicity of the job but also mention that it can present challenges. Glassdoor has given working for Instacart as a shopper 3.4/5 stars based on over 2,000 reviews. The most frequently mentioned pros include creating your own schedule, freedom and flexibility as an independent contractor and that it’s a great source for some extra income. However, as with most jobs, there are cons to delivering for Instacart as well. These commonly noted cons include poor customer service, slow shifts with minimal orders and frequent app glitches. 

Is it worth getting a job driving for Instacart?

The easy and convenience of being an Instacart shopper makes the job very appealing. It’s simple, straightforward and a great way to earn extra income on the side. Patience is key with a job like this as issues may arise that are out of one’s control but if you don’t mind some challenges here and there, delivering for Instacart could be a great option for you! Take the time to research the job beforehand to make sure it’s the right fit for you.

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